Dermot Ahern calls for a 'Yes' vote during Reform Treaty debate in Dundalk
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern T.D. made a strong call for a 'yes' vote in the upcoming referendum on the 'Reform Treaty' at a debate last night in Dundalk organised by the European Commission.
Speaking on the Treaty the Minister said:
"The coming referendum is not something to be treated lightly. The decision we arrive at on 12 June will be a decision not just about the wording of a European Treaty, but about our country’s future. The choice we have to make is between moving forward with our European partners and meeting together the challenges of the 21st century, or turning our backs on a Union that has helped transform Ireland.
I am often asked why do we need this Treaty and what’s in it for us? The short answer is that this Treaty is designed to deal with changes in Europe and changes in the world. Every Irish person has a huge interest in ensuring that Ireland and Europe can cope successfully with these changes. That is the best way in which we can secure our jobs, our prosperity and our children’s futures. In this time of economic turbulence, we can ill afford to step aside from Europe and, for no good reason, block a Treaty agreed by all 27 EU Member States as a blueprint for the European Union’s future.
Ireland’s sovereignty is to be measured in terms of our ability:
-To defend Ireland’s prosperity
-To safeguard Ireland’s environment
-To protect the jobs and their livelihoods which the Irish people have worked so hard to create.
These things cannot be achieved in isolation. They depend on
Ireland’s capacity to nurture and protect Ireland’s essential
interests. And that capacity to act – though minimal on our
own – is enhanced and multiplied through the unique partnership
that is today’s European Union:
– the Single Market,
– the practical co-operation between Member States, and
– the greater clout on the world stage which membership has given us.
Without the EU, we would not have made the gains we have registered in recent years. At home, we have higher levels of prosperity and employment than we could ever have achieved without membership. The transformation of our agricultural sector could not have happened without generous EU support. Foreign direct investment would not have reached the massive levels of today without our guaranteed access to the Single Market. And many of the infrastructural improvements would not have come about if the Union had not made generous provision of Structural Funds.
Looking to the future, I firmly believe that past behaviour is a
good indicator of future performance. For this reason,
Ireland has nothing to fear and everything to gain by supporting
the Treaty. I am not naïve enough to believe that membership
of the Union has not provided us with challenges and obliges us to
make compromises. I have no doubt that it will continue to
make such demands. However, the benefits of active and
positive EU involvement have far outweighed the costs. This
will continue to be the case. The Union should not be seen as
a zero-sum game– because it is not. The whole is greater than
the sum of the parts.
Continued support for the principles and values embodied in the Reform Treaty will, I believe, ensure continued progress for Ireland and for Europe.
21st April 2008